World Vision, a prominent Christian relief agency faced a storm of protests following a policy that allowed the charity to hire Christians in same-sex marriages. The policy lasted two days and was dropped as the group told supporters the board had made a mistake and was returning to its policy of requiring celibacy outside of marriage “and faithfulness within the Bible covenant of marriage between a man and a woman.”
The group, based in Federal Way, Washington, was started by evangelicals and has an international operating budget of nearly $1 billion and conducts economic development and emergency relief projects. After extensive protests to the new policy, including threats from many prominent donors to cancel their child sponsorships, the group stated it had not consulted enough with its partners before announcing the initial policy change.
“We have listened to you and want to say thank you and to humbly ask for your forgiveness,” the agency said in the letter, signed by World Vision president Richard Stearns and board chairman Jim Bere. The initial policy said that World Vision would still require celibacy outside of marriage and would require employees to affirm a statement of faith that they follow Christ, but would change policy in the US as a way to avoid the divisive debates that have torn apart churches.
After the statement, many of the group’s donors were posting on the agency’s Facebook page, stating they would no longer fund the sponsor-a-child programs that are central to World Vision’s fundraising and education. Last week, one board member, Jacquelline Fuller, director of corporate giving for Google Inc., resigned over the matter. In an email, she stated that though she fully supported the work that World Vision does, she could no longer be a board member because she “disagreed with the decision to exclude gay employees who marry.”